Page 1, 1st May 1998

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Page 1, 1st May 1998 — Pro-abortion doctors face legal battle
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Pro-abortion doctors face legal battle

Scarisbrick to launch national campaign

By JOE JENKINs WOMEN who have experienced medical complications and trauma after abortion are to be encouraged to sue the doctors who authorised their procedure.

Speaking to the Catholic Herald on Monday the 30th anniversary of the Abortion Act Jack Scarisbrick, National Chairman of Life, revealed plans to launch a new national campaign to tackle doctors who put women at risk without alerting them to the medical evidence that shows explicitly the long-term dangers of the procedure to health. Professor Scarisbrick said that there is now no medical justification for doctors to grant abortions. "No doctor can now sign that blue form in good faith," he said.

He said: "We are going to encourage women to go for the doctors' jugulars and take them through the courts."

A new telephone line will be set up by Life to gather names and complaints of women and will lead to mass litigation against doctors. The British Medical Association told the Catholic Herald: "Under the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act two doctors must satisfy themselves that there are grounds for abortion, but it is the woman who gives consent. On occasion it may be that in later years the decision is regretted."

The new litigation-notlegislation approach by Life is in response to the new Government's stance on abortion. Professor Scarisbrick cited front bench attitudes, Emily's List and the party leadership's post-electoral debt to the Left as factors ruling out hope of Parliamentary progress for the prolife lobby.

But Ann Widdicombe MP, chairing a Life meeting in London on Monday, dismissed this line of thought as "defeatist" and insisted: "We can defeat any Private Member's Bill."

Voice for Choice, a proabortion group launched on Monday, is to rally the considerable Parliamentary support for an extension of abortion from up to 14 weeks to 24 weeks, on the agreement of one doctor. Any hope of defeating legislation taken up by the Government, however, is deemed by Life to be "impossible".

Highlighting the medical risks that are increased in women who have an abortion, Professor Scarisbrick said: "After 30 years of legalised abortion in this country we now know that what we used to be told about abortion being a simple and safe little operation especially if done early in pregnancy just is not true.

"Abortion not only kills a real, living human being every time. It also does damage, often devastating damage, to the physical and mental health of the woman involved and can even harm subsequent children.

"It is now impossible for any doctor in good faith to sign the form authorising an abortion on the ground that continuance of the pregnancy poses a greater threat to the physical or mental health of the mother than does abortion, which is the ground on which the overwhelming majority of abortions are carried out under the Abortion Act 1967."

Last weekend the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children organised pro-life chains and vigils around the country, with thousands turning out to mark this sombre anniversary.

IbNorthern Irish prochoice groups lobbied the Government last week to extend Britain's abortion law to Northern Ireland.

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